Administrators said at the nonprofit hospital board’s annual public meeting this morning that the changes were prompted by realization that many area residents were going outside the hospital system and even the county for colonoscopies and other gastroenterology procedures.
“Patients were waiting weeks at a time,” said Jackie Gould, vice president for nursing services. The fact that the hospital didn’t offer certain advanced procedures also contributed to the problem.
So in April, the hospital signed a deal to merge forces with the gastroenterologists at Lebanon Internal Medicine Associates. In May, it hired Dr. Robert Schade as medical director of its Digestive Health Specialists. The hospital also hired one new gastroenterologist.
To complete the changes, administrators said, Good Samaritan bought new equipment, adjusted its physician schedules, standardized terminology and procedures among gastroenterology doctors, started offering care for liver and pancreatic diseases, put a lot more information about procedures online for patients and began allowing patients to self-refer for colonoscopies instead of requiring that they get a referral.
The backlog has now been eliminated, administrators said, and they plan to continue expanding their gastroenterology offerings in the future. The hospital has just performed its first two capsule endoscopies, in which a patient swallows what looks like a pill that takes thousands of digital pictures as it traverses the digestive tract.